League leaders have one hand on the trophy

Clitheroe celebrate the fall of a Nelson wicket on Sunday			Picture: Keith Driver
Clitheroe celebrate the fall of a Nelson wicket on Sunday Picture: Keith Driver

Clitheroe have got one hand on the Lancashire League trophy with a 24-point weekend practically sewing up the title in the club’s debut season at this level.

Victories over Haslingden and Nelson, which extended their winning streak to nine games, effectively put them out of striking distance from closest rivals and fellow newcomers Darwen.

The table toppers require just three points from their final game against Burnley at Turf Moor on September 16th to clinch the Championship though the silverware could be secured far sooner should Mark Friend’s men drop points in their remaining trio of fixtures.

The league leaders strengthened their tag as favourites when beating Haslingden by 26 runs in their final outing of the term at Chatburn Road.

The home side’s highest scoring batsman Jack Dewhurst faced 144 deliveries in making 79, which included nine fours, while Ali Ross added 27 in a 166 run finish.

Josh Marquet was then the most potent bowler in the defence as he took 3-32 from 10 overs while professional Fawad Alam and Harrison Phelan made further inroads with two wickets apiece.

The champions elect then overcame the rain to see off Nelson in a reduced overs fixture at Seedhill, capitalising on the washout at Acre Bottom.

Alam claimed 3-40, Marcus Sharp 2-21 and Sam Halstead 2-34 as the hosts posted 144 on the scoreboard before the weather took a turn for the worse.

As a result Clitheroe’s target was reduced to 80 from 20 overs which they surpassed inside 11 overs with three wickets down.

Tom Lord top scored for the visitors with an unbeaten 23 after opener Charlie Dewhurst had made 21.

The trophy may be in touching distance but captain Paul Gaskell is still keeping his feet firmly rooted to the ground.

“We’re in touching distance now and we got the job done over the weekend,” he said. “We’ve done all that we can and we’re looking forward to the Burnley game now.

“Whatever the circumstances going in to that game we’ll be going there to win. Nothing will change that.

“Darwen are a good side and capable of winning all three games to put the pressure on us. It’s possible to go to Burnley and not get anything.

“It might be over before then though. We will be watching from afar but it could be a really good weekend for us.

“We wanted to put a run together and then ask teams to try and chase us. We’re a difficult team to catch when we’re out in front. I couldn’t have asked for any more from the lads.”